Bands rock out to celebrate Homecoming

Dave Trautz, the 19-year-old lead keyboard player and vocalist for the band... Fire!, performed in the Old Gym on Friday for a crowd of 35 people. All the songs performed were written by Trautz. The band Hopefield later took the stage. / photo by Maria Villalpando
Dave Trautz, the 19-year-old lead keyboard player and vocalist for the band …Fire!, performed in the Old Gym on Friday for a crowd of 35 people. All the songs performed were written by Trautz. The band Hopefield later took the stage. / photo by Maria Villalpando

Last Friday night the bands Hopefield and … Fire! rocked the roof off of the University of La Verne’s Old Gym.

Organized by the Campus Activities Board, the bands played for about an hour and a half, drawing in about 35 students like moths to a nightlight.

Kellie Salmeron, chairwoman for the concerts committee, said she wanted to have an event that everyone could be a part of, including the commuters.

“I planned this event for Homecoming week because CAB wanted students to have fun in a positive way,” Salmeron said. “I wanted to get the commuters involved, and for everyone to just have a fun time.”

Salmeron said she chose the bands based on a good opinion and previous experience of their talents.

“With Hopefield, Nick Solis, CAB vice chairman, had been telling me all about them,” Salmeron said. “… Fire! had already played an acoustic performance in Davenport and I wanted to have them come back.

“This was my first big event, and I just wanted it to go over well,” she added.

… Fire! is composed of David Trautz, 19, his brother Ryan Trautz, 20, and their friend Jimmy Majors, 19.

All three members of the group play the keyboards, with David as the lead vocalist. The band is from Walnut.

David Trautz discussed the band’s sound before sharing what had inspired them to perform.

In his tight jeans and large dark sunglasses, he smiled at the band before sharing its love of music, evidenced by a keyboard tattooed on his right forearm.

“Our music is definitely indie-pop, but we are electronic too,” David Trautz said.

“We really like Bright Eyes and the Mountain Goats; they kind of inspire my ideas for our music,” he added.

David Trautz added that playing with another great band and being available to the students made the night a success.

“We wanted to play with a good band,” David Trautz said. “They have the right melodies and good music. We’ve played here at La Verne before and just wanted some students to come out and take advantage of great music.”

At 9:30 p.m., … Fire! was able to get everyone lounging around in the Old Gym watching, listening and enjoying the group’s flowy, electric sound.

The group played its keyboards with intensity, lending a sincere note to David Trautz’s distinctive voice.

It was easy to tell that the group loved producing music with a soft, dreamy effect.

About 45 minutes later, Hopefield took the floor. With a more traditional set up, the band featured four members: Andrew Capra, 20, Mark Mikin, 20, Jojo Casillas, 22, and Robert Lerdsuwanrut, 24.

Capra sang lead vocals and played guitar, while Mikin sang background vocals and played the keyboard and bass.

Casillas played the drums while Lerdsuwanrut played lead guitar.

The group is based in Orange County, but its members come from different areas.

Capra lives in Santa Ana, Mikin and Casillas are both from Rancho Cucamonga and Lerdsuwanrut is from Walnut.

Capra stepped forward, ready to talk about his group and the seriousness with which they approached their craft.

A quiet guy, his hair falling into his eyes, Capra looked more like a self-conscious model than the leader of an up- and-coming band, but he was quick to speak about the passion his group infused into their music.

“We all came from separate bands and listen to all kinds of music,” Capra said. “But I think of our music as catchy indie-rock.”

“It’s big, beyond the pop rock scope,” he added. “It’s meant to be arena rock.”

It was with this firm desire to entertain and enjoy the music that they came to La Verne.

“We love college campuses,” Capra said. “Colleges are always the best places to do shows; we looked forward to playing tonight.”

Hopefield was very comfortable out on the floor with the crowd around them.

The band’s sound does lend validity to Capra’s statement of “arena rock.”

The group is well put together.

Each member plays his instrument with great feeling, coming together for a polished, fine-tuned sound.

Capra’s voice ranged from low whispers to high wails, but never faltered, blending together with the music in a surprisingly subtle way.

The audience enjoyed both sets, bobbing their heads along to the music, seemingly lost in the ethereal poetic quality of both bands.

Adam Carranza, a junior speech communications major, said he thought many people attended the event because of their surprise that something special was taking place so close to home.

“There’s nothing ever going on, on Friday nights,” he said. “It’s nice to see something happening.”

Although both bands may be very popular in their areas, Carranza and others had not heard of either band before.

That is not to say they did not enjoy the music, though.

“I like that it sounded pretty mellow,” Carranza said.

“The music was very real,” said Jesur Habek, a freshman biology major.

“They weren’t fake singing,” he added. “Everything kind of melded together.”

To Salmeron and CAB’s credit, Roddy Cobb Jr., a freshman psychology major, summed up the sights and sounds for the night.

“The event was pretty cool,” Cobb said. “The groups had a mellow melody to them.”

Salmeron also added that the next CAB concert will be sometime in December and that she hopes to get more artists to perform at ULV.

“There’s something international going on so I need to book a group for that,” Salmeron said. “But I really want to get a hip-hop or R&B group to come. We just want students to have fun.”

Lilia Cabello can be reached at

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Journalism operations manager at the University of La Verne. Production manager and business manager of the Campus Times.

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